GUEST POST by John Staib
My mackerel fishing boat Loco was built at Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island in the late 1970s and launched in 1981. It was one of half a dozen dories built at that time. The hull was fiberglass and deck and fittings were crafted from local spotted gum and beech The hull design was based on the Saint Pierre dories from Nova Scotia that were used in the cod fishery. A local fisherman Jim Wardel got the plans and shipwright Larry Bardsley built the vessels. Three of the dories built in Horseshoe went into the mackerel fishery at Latitude 18. The were named Troppo, Dingo and Loco.
The freezer on Loco could hold 90 packs of fish (900kg). At that time the Townsville Fish Board controlled the industry and paid a fixed price for mackerel. A local fisherman Ken Mills used to bag the mackerel wings and sell them at the local shop in Nelly Bay where he got a better price than for the fillets. Fillets were sold to the fish and chip shops on Magnetic Island and to the pub in Horseshoe Bay. There was also a healthy blackmarket on the mainland. If we caught a lot of fish we would take it town. Fish and ship shop owners had huge walk-in freezers hidden under their houses.